Tuesday, April 22, 2008

James Congdon

James Congdon, also known as “Congden”, was born December 30, 1827, in Wayne County, New York, the son of Joseph (1792-1849) and Elizabeth (Stanbrough, 1791-1876).

Rhode Island native Joseph married New Yorker Elizabeth sometime around 1814 in Utica, Oneida County, New York. They settled in Wayne County, New York where they resided for many years. James left New York and moved to Michigan and by 1850 he was living with his older brother George and his family in Grand Rapids, Kent County.

James was still living in Grand Rapids when he married Michigan native Sarah Jane Ellis (1837-1887) on October 11, 1852, and they had at least four children: Ellen (1855-1878), Eva (1857-1858), Arthur D. (1853) and Mary (or Minnie, b. 1859).

James may have been the same James Congdon who was arrested in March of 1859 for trespassing on the land of Dr. Johnson of Grand Rapids. If so, the charge was “Settled by Justice’s costs being paid by respondent.”

In any case, by 1859-60 James was working for his brother at G. R. Congden’s lime kiln on the east side of Water Street between 6th and Ann Streets on the west side of the river, and in 1860 he was living with his own family in Grand Rapids’ Fourth Ward working as a laborer.

James was 32 years old and still residing in Grand Rapids when he enlisted in Company B on May 13, 1861. Although first reported missing in action on August 29, 1862 at Second Bull Run, in fact he had been killed in action. His body may have been brought home for burial since there is a headstone for him in Fairplains cemetery, Grand Rapids: section 1 lot 57. Of course, the stone may be a memorial and he may have been buried among the unknown soldiers whose remains were reinterred in Arlington National Cemetery.

In 1865-66 his widow was working as a dressmaker at her home at no. 95 Monroe Street in Grand Rapids, and in 1867-68 she was still working at dressmaking at no. 97 Monroe Street. In 1870 Sarah was still working as a dress-maker and living in Grand Rapids’ First Ward with her daughters Ellen and Minnie. She was still living in Grand Rapids in 1883. In 1863 she applied for and received a widow’s pension no. 8,245, drawing $8.00 in 1883.

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